Bronte Country – visiting the Bronte Sisters home
The Brontes lived in Yorkshire or as it is known in England – God’s Country. I adored housesitting near Haworth Yorkshire where I got to visit places like the Bronte parsonage, where the Brontë sisters lived.
The Brontë sisters Charlotte, Emily, and Anne Brontë wrote some of their most famous books here in Haworth at the Parsonage where they lived and which is now known as the Brontë Museum, and the wild and windswept moorlands which became a great source for their novels. If you are a lover of the Bronte sisters’ books then visiting Haworth and the Brontë Parsonage Museum should be on your bucket list.
What to see in Bronte Country
Brontë Country is the name given to an area of south Pennine hills west of Bradford in West Yorkshire, England. Haworth village is the centre of what is known now as Bronte Country and the village is the Brontë village you must visit to see where the Brontë sisters grew up and wrote their novels. Here you can visit all the Brontë attractions and the area known as Brontë Country!
Other local sites of interest to Brontë aficionados in the area includes the Thornton Church St James’s, eight miles from Haworth on the road into Bradford, where Patrick Brontë was a priest at the time of his children Charlotte, Emily, Branwell and Anne’s births. You can also see the outside of the house where they were born (not at present open to the public), and take a virtual tour of it here.
Only two miles across the moors is Ponden Hall (now a B&B) widely considered the model for Thrushcross Grange in Emily’s novel Wuthering Heights, and also to have inspired interior descriptions of the house ‘Wuthering Heights’. The geographic location of ‘Wuthering Heights’, however, is believed to be the ruined moorland farm of ‘Top Withins’.
Nearby is Keighley, the Brontës’ nearest market town, where you can visit Victorian Gothic Cliffe Castle, now home to a museum of the local area, with a playground, extensive gardens and aviary. You might also want to visit the National Trust property and 17th-century manor house East Riddlesden Hall, with its children’s playground, herb garden and maze.
In this article, you’ll find out how to get to Haworth, tips for visiting the Brontë Parsonage Museum, and lots of ideas of things to do in Haworth and Bronte Country.
Brontë country map
You can buy a great Bronte Country Documentary from Amazon.
Brontë Country is a term often used to describe the uniquely beautiful corner of England where the great literary sisters Charlotte, Emily and Anne Brontë lived and drew inspiration for their novels. Even if you’ve never read a Brontë novel in your life, this program has something very special to offer, charting the amazing real-life story of the Brontë family, set against the staggeringly beautiful Yorkshire landscape.
Yorkshire and the Yorkshire Dales were the inspiration for all the Bronte sisters. Their classic novels included Charlotte’s Jane Eyre, Emily’s Wuthering Heights, and Anne’s The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. Some of the best walks in Yorkshire include Bronte Country in West Yorkshire. The Bronte Parsonage Museum is one of the most popular sites in Yorkshire.
- What to see in Bronte Country
- Where is Brontë Country?
- Brontë sisters history
- Guide to Bronte country
- The Bronte Parsonage Museum
- Haworth Parish Church
- Ponden Hall
- Oakwell Hall
- The Bronte Stones
- The Brontë Stone
- The Charlotte Stone
- The Emily Stone
- The Anne Stone
- Where to eat and stay in Bronte country
Where is Brontë Country?
Haworth and the Brontë Country is in West Yorkshire, in the North of England. Haworth is 42 miles west of York and 20 miles from Leeds, which is the closest major city to Brontë Country.
The beautiful and wild West Yorkshire is dotted with tiny villages like Haworth. Built of local stone the village houses parade up and down the hills, and you can see how the landscape inspired the Bronte sister’s novels. There are many ancient walks through the moors where you can dream about your Heathcliff.
How to get to Bronte Country
The nearest principal railway station is Leeds; the nearest local railway station is Keighley. The Keighley and Worth Valley Railway runs steam trains between Keighley railway station and Haworth railway station at weekends, on bank holidays, and daily in summer. From Keighley, you can take a bus to Haworth. You can get a train from London’s Paddington Station and it takes about 3.5 hours.
Brontë sisters history
Their mother was originally from Cornwall and Patrick was raised in a mud cabin in C. Down Ireland. He had grown up in a very large and poor family. At 15 Patrick was discovered reading by a local Priest. The priest took to Patrick Brontë and his education journey began.
He managed over the years to get to Cambridge where he was ordained and then onto Yorkshire where he became the Parson at Haworth Village. In an age where the Irish were considered lazy, childish, and dirty Patrick didn’t have an easy time at Haworth. The Bronte Parsonage Museum contains many memorabilia from Patrick and the sisters.
The former parsonage and home of the Brontes was converted years ago into the Brontë Parsonage Museum. It now houses the world’s largest collection of Bronte papers, personal possessions, and furniture of the family. Haworth is the centre of Bronte Country and it is from here and around here that you will find all the Bronte sisters’ sites and memories.
Take a steam train tour of the Yorkshire countryside and moors
The Bronte’s lives were not easy in Haworth and they were coloured with tragedy. There were five Bronte sisters and their brother Branwell. Marie and Elizabeth didn’t live beyond their childhood and their mother died a year after moving to Haworth.
Branwell who was a very gifted artist turned to morphine and alcohol to dull his pain and died early in 1848. Shortly after Branwell died Emily passed away from Tuberculosis and Anne died a year later. Only Charlotte was left.
Charlotte did marry Arthur Nicholls who was her father’s Curate but it was against her father’s wishes. She died in 1855 it was believed to be from the awful hyperemesis gravidarum, which was and is a morning sickness that just won’t cease. Patrick their father lived until he was 84.
Haworth is the epitome of an English Village. Set in the haunting backdrop of the Yorkshire moors Haworth’s cobbled streets and old stone houses offer a unique place from which to explore this area of Yorkshire and of course the Bronte legacy.
It was in 1846 that the sisters attempted to publish a volume of poetry under the male names of Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell. The sisters were confident that the volume would be well received and as a result, they would win “literary fame”. Unfortunately, that was not to be and the book only sold 2 copies.
They continued their writing efforts and during the following year, each of them published a novel that would win literary acclaim in Britain. Charlotte’s Jane Eyre, Emily’s Wuthering Heights, and Anne’s Agnes Grey became so widely read that they were soon established as three British literary greats.
The dark and brooding environment of the Yorkshire Moors where their inspiration and many of us can still see Heathcliffe and Kathy on those dramatic moor vistas. Charlotte’s inspiration for Jane Eyre was based on the ruins of Wycoller Hall in Lancashire which became Ferndean Manor and Wuthering Heights will always be associated with the ruins of a farmhouse called Top Withins.
At the time of publication, the novels were a sensation because of the dark subject matter but have since gone on to become classics. Wuthering Heights inspired Kate Bush to write the song which has become a classic British pop song.
Guide to Bronte country
The Bronte Parsonage Museum
The Brontë Parsonage Museum is, as it should be, a sombre stone Georgian house that still contains the original furniture used by the family. The sombre Bronte house in which the sisters grew up, displays their original furniture. One of the most haunting pieces is the table with its candle burns and ink stains left from the sisters writing efforts.
The Brontë Parsonage Museum is open every day except 24 – 27 December and during January, when essential conservation work is carried out.
Monday | 10am – 5.30pm
Tuesday | 10am – 5.30pm
Wednesday | 10am – 5.30pm
Thursday | 10am – 5.30pm
Friday | 10am – 5.30pm
Haworth Parish Church
The Haworth Parish Church, St Michael and All Angels, is where the Brontes are buried (except for Anne who was laid to rest in Scarborough) and is located next to the parsonage. The Church doesn’t look the same as it did in the Bronte era as it was rebuilt in 1879. The tower though does date back to 1480.
Ponden Hall is a beautifully luxurious B&B in Stanbury, a village near Haworth that offers cream tea and tours of the hall once owned by the Heaton family, who were acquaintances of the Brontës. Charlotte, Emily, and their brother Branwell used the library, and Emily based parts of Wuthering Heights here.
Oakwell Hall was built by John Batt in 1583 and is now run as a ‘living museum’ furnished as the Batt family home in the 1690s. Charlotte Bronte loved the house and it inspired her to feature it in her novel, Shirley as ‘Fieldhead’.
The restored gardens are well worth a visit, and over 100 acres of Green Flag award-winning country park include a visitor centre, gift shop, café, nature trail, picnic sites and a new playground designed for children of all abilities.
Nearby is the Red House, Gomersal, where Charlotte’s best friend Mary Taylor lived, and which Charlotte used as the model for the house ‘Briarmains’ in her novel Shirley. Unfortunately, the Red House is no longer open to the public.
The Bronte Stones
The Bronte Stones are three stones that celebrate the bicentenaries of the sisters. There is also a fourth stone to mark the significance of the literary family. The project was conceived and developed by Michael Stewart together with the Bradford Literature Festival. Michael Stewart took inspiration from another literary walk and worked with several others to bring the Bronte stones and walk to life.
Michael Stewart, who lives in Thornton, came up with the idea in 2013. He said he had long wanted “my village to receive recognition for its place in the Brontë story … It’s fantastic to see the project come to fruition”. excerpt from The Guardian.
The Brontë Stone
The Brontë Stone is located in the Thornton Cemetery in the shade of the sycamore trees. It overlooks Pinch Beck Valley.
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Lucky me. A Saturday with a (different) seldom seen friend. Lots of chatter, an art shop, lovely lunch and then book shop (yes it was Salts Mill) followed by a detour on the way home to see two of the Bronte Stones. These stones are carved by Pip Hall and there are four. I tried a couple of weeks ago to see the Anne stone in Haworth, but it hadn’t been erected because of some h&s issue where the installers wouldn’t absolutely commit to it not toppling over and flattening someone. Happily the Charlotte stone written by Carol Ann Duffy and the Bronte stone by Jeanette Winterson seems to have passed the topple test… ‘Listen to the Wildfell of your heart Do not betray what you love’ #brontestones #bronte200 #thornton #piphall #carolannduffy #jeanettewinterson
The Charlotte Stone
The birthplace of the Brontes is in Thornton which is now home to Emily’s a licensed cafe and restaurant. The stone is on the outside wall. The poem has been written by poet laureate, Carol Ann Duffy. The birthplace is now home to Emily’s, a fully licensed cafe and restaurant.
The Emily Stone
The Emily stone is located amid the wild windswept moorland as it should be, overlooking Haworth. Carved into the side of Ogden Kirk a rugged outcrop of rock above the clough.
The Anne Stone
The Anne Stone lies in the top right-hand corner of Parson’s Field, a wildflower meadow behind the Brontë Parsonage Museum. Anne is the only Bronte not buried in the family vault under the church she is buried in Scarborough in St. Mary’s Churchyard overlooking the sea.
Patrick was a parson at Old Bell Chapel in the village of Thornton before moving to Haworth, and Charlotte, Emily, Branwell, and Anne were born on nearby Market Street. The house where the family lived is now Emily’s, a coffee house and delicatessen.
Top Withens and Bronte Waterfall Hike
Starting from Haworth to Top Withens, a ruin may have been the inspiration for Wuthering Heights but even the plaque on the wall of the ruins says “may” and stresses that the building bore no resemblance to the house portrayed in the novel.
The Bronte Bridge has swept away in a flood in 1989 and has been rebuilt. From the bridge up to the Bronte Waterfall which was a favourite spot of Charlotte.s where you can see the “Bronte chair”. A Step by Step guide to the hike is available in the Guardian newspaper.
Bronte country walks
Brontë Walks offers a range of tours and services to help you enjoy the village, the moors, and the Brontës. These walks come highly recommended and Johnny is incredibly knowledgeable.
- A guided tour; ‘The Passionate Brontës’
- A range of guided walks up onto the moors, ‘The wild workshop of their imagination’.
- A complete day of Brontë loveliness that combines the two, ‘The Brontë Experience’.
- A driving tour of Brontë Country, which is all of the above and a lot more.
Where to eat and stay in Bronte country
Haworth Old Hall, stands in West Yorkshire, one of the oldest buildings in the village it dates back to 1621. At the foot of the stunning moors, the Tudor charm has been preserved and it’s a stunning place to stay and eat. They serve light meals to full feasts with all local produce and have gluten-free, vegan, and vegetarian menus.
The family-run, 4 Star, 300-year-old coaching inn has a pub, great hotel rooms and serves light snacks in the pub to an a la carte menu. The hotel looks down the famous Haworth cobbled Main Street and is opposite the Parish Church and Bronte Parsonage Museum. Just a short walk and you’re on the famous moors & Yorkshire Pennine Way walked by the Bronte Sisters.
A creative little cafe is a lovely cafe and pottery painting studio. Cobbles and Clay sits at the top of Haworth Main Street and you can have a nice light lunch and paint some pottery to remind you of your time in Haworth. Rumour has it they serve an excellent cup of Yorkshire tea.
Serving freshly ground coffee and having 15 blends to choose from they also serve their blends of coffee that are delicious. Don’t forget those scrumptious baked goods are all made in-house and you will have a hell of a time choosing just one, and yes they also do a great cup of tea.
Here are some items that will inspire you to visit Bronte Country
I love this scarf inspired by Wuthering Heights
Brontes Book List
If you have never read a Bronte book here is a guide to all the books they wrote
- Charlotte Bronte
- Jane Eyre (1846)
- Villette (1853)
- Shirley (1849)
- The Professor (1857)
- High Life in Verdopolis
- Juvenilia: 1829-1835
- Emily Bronte
- Wuthering Heights (1847)
- The classic and said to be the best adaption on screen for Wuthering Heights with a brooding Tom Hardy as Heathcliffe
- Anne Bronte
- Agnes Grey (1847)
- The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (1848)
- Branwell Bronte
- The Works of Patrick Branwell Bronte: An Edition (Vol 1)The three sisters also compiled a number of their poems into a collection of poetry called Poems by Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell. Currer, Ellis, and Acton were the aliases used by the sisters to disguise their feminine identities.
- Here are some books that contain the sisters’ and Branwell’s poetry:
- Best Poems of the Bronte Sisters
- Bronte: Poems (Emily)
- The Complete Poems (Emily)
- Selected Poems (Charlotte, Emily, Anne, and Branwell)
- Charlotte began several novels but never finished them. There is a book called Unfinished Novels that includes these fragmentary novels. The book contains The Story of Willie Ellin, Ashworth, The Moores, and Emma.
What is your favourite Bronte sister novel and have you managed to get to Bronte Country yet?
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